More than 44,000 truck drivers in Illinois will spilt $228 million in damages after a Chicago federal jury ruled that BNSF Railway unlawfully scanned drivers’ fingerprints without proper permission while they were picking up and dropping off loads at rail yards.
Collecting or storing biometric information, including fingerprint scans, requires written, informed permission or notice under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This is the first case of its kind to go trial, according to Law360.
Earlier this year, another Illinois truck driver filed a class action lawsuit against Maverick Transportation and Lytx for a similar violation, leading transportation compliance attorneys to caution carriers in the state to ensure they have a compliant BIPA policy. (see Dig Deeper sidebar).
This case against BNSF, led by lead plaintiff Richard Rogers, is the results of three years of litigation.
Jurors concluded BNSF “recklessly or intentionally” violated the state’s biometric law 45,600 times, equal to the estimated number of drivers who had their fingerprints registered. BIPA provides for as much as $5,000 in liquidated damages for every willful or reckless violation and $1,000 for every negligent violation, according to the Law360 report.
BNSF General Director of Public Affairs Lena Kent told Law360 that the railroad, one of the largest in the country, plans to appeal. BNSF argues that the independent contractor it hired to process drivers at the gates of the its rail yard, Remprex, is responsible.